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Movie Review: "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Theatrical Release: 7/15/2009

Theatrical Release: 7/15/2009

Synopsis

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is about to begin his sixth year at Hogwarts, but Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) has an important mission for the young wizard. Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has returned as powerful as ever, and he has regained his following. However, Albus Dumbledore plans to teach Harry Potter about a form of dark magic known as Horcruxes, as teaching the young wizard how to find them and destroy them may be the key to defeating Voldemort. Unfortunately, finding the Horcruxes will not be easy, and destroying them will come with a price.

Meanwhile, Voldemort has his own plan, a plan that has the dark lord’s sights set on Hogwarts, and being the son of one of Voldemort’s devoted followers, Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) has found himself becoming one of Voldemort’s many pawns. With many powerful dark wizards at his disposal, and a potential mole inside Hogwarts, Voldemort‘s chances of infiltrating the school have never been greater. He has unfinished business with a certain wizard in the school, and his plan to kill that wizard has already been set in motion.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Harry, Dumbledore, and the Horcruxes (+8pts)

Luck Potion (-3pts)

Draco Malfoy & Professor Snape (+6pts)

Professor Slughorn (-3pts)

The Attack on Hogwarts (+5pts)

Romance (-2pts)

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Pro: Harry, Dumbledore, and the Horcruxes (+8pts)

This movie saw Albus Dumbledore taking Harry Potter under his wing, to teach him about Horcruxes, and I liked this storyline a lot. Albus Dumbledore has always been a mysterious figure, and this story saw a lot more of him interacting with Harry Potter. I liked the dynamic between the two characters, I liked what we learned about Albus Dumbledore and Tom Riddle's past, and I liked the concept of the Horcruxes. Albus Dumbledore has always been a mentor to Harry Potter, but he more often than not, was a mentor from a distance. He would swoop in at times when Harry Potter needed guidance, but Albus Dumbledore rarely took the role of active participant in what Harry Potter was dealing with throughout the previous movies. In this movie, that all changed.

Albus Dumbledore was familiar with Tom Riddle and the Horcruxes, and he knew it was something he needed to teach Harry Potter. Albus Dumbledore took Harry Potter on a mysterious little adventure before the young wizard began his next year at Hogwarts. The Horcruxes were interesting, as I liked that they were forms of dark magic that could not be destroyed easily, or without taking a toll on the person destroying them. I also liked what we learned of Tom Riddle and Albus Dumbledore's past together, as it gave some context as to how Albus Dumbledore knew what he knew, but it also helped give the wizarding world some history. Really though, I just liked watching Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter on this dark adventure together. It was an interesting and mysterious little adventure that was impossible for me to look away from, and it helped set the tone for the rest of the movie.

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Con: Luck Potion (-3pts)

You know when you are watching a movie and the filmmakers introduce something that seems like it could be an interesting idea on the surface, but as soon as you start digging even a little bit deeper, you realize it introduces a ton of plot holes? Well that was what this luck potion was. It was a potion that basically guaranteed good luck, which as the characters described it in the movie, means that characters you take the potion always seem to get their way and achieve what they were after. The problem this introduced into the story was that it did not make any sense why characters in the wizarding world would not use this potion more often.

Let us say that the ingredients required for the potion were hard to come by. Why would someone not take the potion, then set out to find more ingredients, as the potion pretty much guaranteed success? Then that person would have a seemingly endless supply of the potion, and could then use it whenever they were going into battle, or trying to find a Horcrux, or trying to do really anything that had any sort of stakes. By introducing this as something that exists in this world, the author and filmmakers then introduced a pretty massive plot hole. Fortunately, the filmmakers moved on from this idea pretty quickly, so the audience did not have much time to really think about this potion and its implications before the filmmakers moved on to the next thing. As a result, this did not have a huge impact on my enjoyment of the movie, but given how unnecessary this spell was to the overall story, I do not see why the filmmakers felt the need to introduce this plot hole into the franchise.

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Pro: Draco Malfoy & Professor Snape (+6pts)

I do not want to give either of these characters' stories away, but I really enjoyed both of these characters' stories in this movie. Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) was no longer just the strict professor who had it out for the protagonists. This movie elevated him to a true antagonist, and he had a very impactful storyline. It was a storyline about love, jealousy, and betrayal, and it was a storyline that ended up being a major part of the movie's climax. Then there was Draco Malfoy, who was basically thrown into the fire, so to speak. It was nothing new for him to want to be like his father, and it was nothing new for him to be one of Harry Potter's rivals, but Tom Felton brought this character's internal struggle to the screen in a way that made him a pretty compelling character. Both characters got quite a bit of character development in this movie, and I liked every second of it.

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Con: Professor Slughorn (-3pts)

I do not have a whole lot to say about this guy, other than the fact that he just came across as too silly for this movie. A lot of this movie was dark, intense, and ominous. I think the filmmakers realized this, and tried to offset that by injecting some comedy. There were a number of examples of comedy that felt desperate, and did not really land, but I think the most obvious example was Professor Slughorn. The filmmakers gave him this odd, quirky personality that was supposed to make him serve as a comedic relief to lighten the tone a bit. Unfortunately, he came across as cartoon-ish, and I did not think it fit with the rest of the movie very well.

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Pro: The Attack on Hogwarts (+5pts)

This was the movie's climax, and without giving anything away, some characters decide to make an attack on Hogwarts. You will have to see the movie to find out who did this, and how successful they were, but the whole sequence made for a pretty great climax. This was the third movie in a row with a big, blockbuster-style, epic scale climax, and it capitalized on everything that came before it. Each of the last three movies had climaxes that raised the stakes since the climax of the previous movie, and benefited from all of the movies that came before them. The climax of this movie was more of an epic climax than the last movie, and the stakes felt so high because we have been following the characters involved for six movies. It also left on a pretty big cliff-hanger, leaving the audience incredibly invested in seeing what happens in the next movie. On all accounts, this was an effective climax, and it was another example in this franchise of the type of climax that makes you want to go to the movies.

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Con: Romance (-2pts)

This was another example of something that worked in the book, because the author had time to develop everything, but did not work in the movie, because the filmmakers did not. There was Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright), and there was Remus Lupin (David Thewlis) and Nymphadora Tonks (Natalia Tena). Neither of these romantic storylines worked for me. With Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley, I did not think the filmmakers had developed their storyline enough to pull the trigger on them having a romantic storyline. Had they started these characters down this path? Sure, but just barely, and not enough to get them to where they were in this movie. This storyline just felt really forced, and I thought the filmmakers either needed to cut it out entirely, or spend a lot more time developing it in previous movies. Then there was Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks, which were pretty minor characters, so minor that I thought the filmmakers spending any time on their romance was a waste of screen-time.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: B+ (86pts)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was the sixth movie in the Harry Potter franchise, and while I did not think it was great, I still thought it was pretty good. It had a pretty epic climax, involving characters that we have become pretty invested in over the course of all of the other movies in the franchise. It also introduced the Horcruxes, and I enjoyed watching Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter as they were on this mysterious little adventure. I also really enjoyed watching the character development of both Draco Malfoy and Severus Snape, with both of them having really interesting internal struggles.

This movie did, however, have its share of faults. I thought Professor Slughorn was too silly of a character, and I did not think he fit well in this movie. I also did not like the luck potion, as I thought it introduced a ton of plot holes, all revolving around why characters did not use luck potions more often. Then there was the romance, with one romantic relationship feeling really forced, and the other romantic relationship feeling like an unnecessary waste of screen-time. As is the case with any book-to-movie adaptation, do not go into this movie expecting it to be a flawless adaptation, which incorporates every single aspect from the book that you enjoyed. There simply is not enough screen-time to do that with most books, and that is especially true for a book as large as most of the Harry Potter books. Nonetheless this was a pretty entertaining movie, with strong character development, plenty of magic, and an epic climax.